This is still hard to write. A week later, and the anger and distress I feel at having one of my stories "stolen" and published under someone else's name is still raw, still cuts deep. The fact that, several days after this revelation it was discovered that this person, a former writing colleague, stole an idea from a mutual friend of ours and once again passed it off as their own and will be published, only deepened the shock, the anger, the distress. I am not going to "name and shame" here, partly because I don't believe this person can feel shame since this person did what they did with full knowledge of their actions, and partly because I don't behave like that, it's not me. Those who need to know, know. Suffice it to say that many of us are watching this person very closely and should there be any hints of such behaviour in the future, the gloves will be off.
Thank you to all of those who have emailed and expressed their support, it means an enormous amount. This person is a disgusting minority, thank goodness, a parasite who prefers to steal the creativity of others than work on their own talents. The writing community will not stand for this.
In an attempt to strike a more positive note, I have just been on an overnight writing "retreat" with my writing group here, and it was just wonderful. I hadn't been able to write since the plagiarism issue surfaced, but during the 24 hours we were together, we each ran a session, talking about, among other things, endings, "found" words (interesting in light of the above!), being inspired by Elizabeth Bishop's poetry, and how we can change the sense of time in our writing by looking at Tobias Wolff's Bullet in the Brain. During the first session, I wrote two "endings" for two stories whose endings had been a mystery to me: just being given permission to write an end without having the middle opened the floodgates!
I ran the final session, in which I "made" my fellow group members press the button to submit a story each, most of them for the first time! They had sent me stories in advance, I decided where each one should be sent to, then today I ran through the basics about submitting fiction and then set up each submission so that all they had to do was hit "Send"! Nerves were a little frayed, photographs were taken, but now each of them has their work "out there". And that is progress, whatever happens next.
I have come home with five new pieces of writing, two prose poems, two "endings" one of which may stand alone, and a poem. We inspired each other, with no need for a paid teacher to come in from outside. We wrote, we talked about writing, we read. Heavenly. Why hadn't we done this before, we all said? We will be doing it again!
I also came home to discover that The White Road and Other Stories has almost run out in the UK and a new print run will be called for, which is due to the fabulous response to Salt's Just One Book campaign. And the campaign is gathering steam: Chris Hamilton Emery will be interviewed on the UK's Newsnight television program, BBC2, 11pm tomorrow night. I don't have any more details, will most certainly post again when my UK-based contacts have reported back. Whatever happens, it will be great for Salt and for all small presses.
OK, I am off to work on the June issue of The Short Review. Short story collections can't wait! (Alice Munro, we love you). Bye.